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Author Topic: Mandatory voting in the US?
Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:

Your suggestion that the system reflects the actual will of the lowest common denominator fails on the simple fact that the lowest common denominator is so disengaged that it's will isn't represented at all. It's been manipulated into disengaging and fighting with others at the bottom, even conned into thinking that it's making some kind of statement by doing so.

Don't forget, though, that what people want isn't a static or simple thing. We each have higher and lower desires, and through education, discipline and positive reinforcement can dwell in our base nature or in our higher nature. I have within me both the power to both lust for revenge and also to see all things from the perspective of others.

The two of you may not be saying different things, when you consider that one tool that oligarchs use to establish control is to emphasize and encourage the basest possible sentiments and thoughts from the population in order to prevent them developing perspective. One result of this will be that people will tend more readily to think in terms of short term and immediate gratification, and retributive justice is a form of this. We can safely say, then, that retributive justice can both be the will of the people (at present) and also something introduced into mainstream thought by oligarchs to turn people against each other.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
It occurs to me that voting as a statement of the system's validity disappears when voting is mandatory.

Indeed. Not-voting only works as a statement against the system when voting is both optional and victory requires a true majority or at least the participation of an absolute minimum, not simply a plurality of votes cast. In a plurality system, not-voting simply grants more power to those that opt to vote, and an active assertion that you will not vote only actually communicates that you can be ignored.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Don't forget, though, that what people want isn't a static or simple thing.
Sure, but that's not directly linked to whether something is happening because you want it.

If you're not engaging and expressing a desire (via voting, in this case) for it to happen, at the very best you can say that it happening is completely independent of your desires, at worst, your desires are being led by it.

That's the core of the point I was making- as long as the turnout is depressed or suppressed among a certain segment of the population, it's inaccurate to say that things happen because that segment of the population wants them. AT best getting things they want is because they're lucky enough to fall within the favor of those that are engaged, at worst it happens because those that are engaged are telling them to like what they're getting.

The contention that I'm arguing against is not that the system makes people want such, but the one that suggests that our system reflects the will of our lowest common denominator, because our lowest common denominator is far too disengaged to actually have its will reflected in the system.

I think it's an important point to get across because many of the "vote buying" arguments about social service programs are complete bung, because the vast majority of the people they benefit are too disengaged to vote- such agreements are actually part of the attack that keeps those people disengaged so that the programs can be eroded and weakened to prevent them from becoming more mobile and a threat to entrenched power.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
It occurs to me that voting as a statement of the system's validity disappears when voting is mandatory.

Indeed. Not-voting only works as a statement against the system when voting is both optional and victory requires a true majority or at least the participation of an absolute minimum, not simply a plurality of votes cast. In a plurality system, not-voting simply grants more power to those that opt to vote, and an active assertion that you will not vote only actually communicates that you can be ignored.
Think of not voting as being equivalent to voting for a third party called the "the system sucks" party. It's true that voting for the third party will effectively be useless when that party doesn't get many votes, especially since the U.S. doesn't have a parliamentary system. If the Green Party, for instance, gets a million votes rather than half a million, the difference is exactly zero since either way the people who voted for them will not have their will represented in politics.

But the trick is to hope for the third party to eventually get a lot of votes, maybe even as much or more than one of the two main parties. Once a vast number of people vote for the 'third party' then their voice is, indeed, heard.

For the most part voter turnout tends to rest somewhere between 50% and 60%, which is shabby but one can still say that a majority of eligible voters spoke their mind. But let's say the turnout one year is under 50% (a distinct possibility in a given election). Will that change the landscape in terms of parties changing their strategy? What about in terms of how politics is spoken of in public life? And what if so many people became disenchanted with the system that the numbers dropped lower still? What if it became absurd and 10% of people voted? Do you still think that "winning" would be construed as the only thing that matters?

I would say that at a certain point a very low turnout is effectively a vote of no confidence in the system. You might argue that the turnout would never get that low so it doesn't matter, which is roughly equivalent to saying that voting for a third party is useless since they'll never win and it just splits the vote. You see, it all comes back to anti-voting, which I fear is the dominant feature in a bad system where the greatest good to achieve is avoiding a devil in favor of a gremlin. Maybe some people would rather avoid that dance of cynicism altogether.

[ March 31, 2015, 02:33 PM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Will that change the landscape in terms of parties changing their strategy?
Yes. It drives the parties to extremism and unreasonable idiocy, as we've seen. As a vote of "no confidence," abstaining from the vote is pretty much the stupidest thing any given individual can do.

quote:
What if it became absurd and 10% of people voted? Do you still think that "winning" would be construed as the only thing that matters?
Absolutely. Absolutely. In fact, I think this would be the modern Republican ideal.
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D.W.
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And even a slim majority of 5.1% of the voting 10% would be considered a "mandate" to do the most controversial things they want.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Will that change the landscape in terms of parties changing their strategy?
Yes. It drives the parties to extremism and unreasonable idiocy, as we've seen. As a vote of "no confidence," abstaining from the vote is pretty much the stupidest thing any given individual can do.

quote:
What if it became absurd and 10% of people voted? Do you still think that "winning" would be construed as the only thing that matters?
Absolutely. Absolutely. In fact, I think this would be the modern Republican ideal.

Hmm. 50 years ago I think you may have been right. I have a feeling that in the years to come things won't be quite as they've been before. The ability for citizens to communicate with each other is getting better, and in a sense the only thing lacking is a concrete mechanism and the will. The way issues trend and things go 'viral' I could foresee a sudden and drastic change in the political landscape at the drop of a hat if the notion went viral that both major parties are cancer. I know you feel that the Republicans are worse than the Democrats, but I personally am not amused by the notion of backing a party because they're 'not as bad.' I wouldn't want to nominate a cat burglar as mayor any more than a murderer.
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
For oligarchs and plutocrats, wealth isn't the main goal, it's just a tool for power, given the choice between the two, they'll select for power, even if they could be 10x as wealthy if hey'd give up power in favor of greater prosperity.
It's like you won't notice the parts where I agree with you...

Again, the critical lens through which you focus is prescriptively valid, in a sense, but you're almost entirely missing the broader picture I'm painting by insisting on seeing it only through that type of microscope.

And I must mention, that although I think that microscope (to which it appears your mind's eye permanently adheres) is calibrated properly, I'm not certain you're using the tool optimally.

Power only appears to be the difference between the rich and the poor at a single scale of resolution; at almost every level of perspective except the monocularly microscopic magnitude to which you appear monomaniacally manacled, wealth is power.

quote:
a retributive justice system increases (the elite's) power
Only to a certain point. A reconstitutive model actually works better for your hypothetical villains who care more for the disparity in power between themselves and others than for the actual substance of power itself (eg wealth). If the perversion of justice were really perpetrated by Pyrtolic puppetmasters, our social system would cast Justice in a recompensatory mask, even if it might be easiest to maintain some of the trappings of a retributive system (which doesn't augment the bottom line of the elite, but just feels right in the gut, and which has the added value of sating some of the rabble's bloodlust). Poverty itself would be criminalized, and the penalty for all crime would be to toil in slave labor for the benefit of society, to repay the debt criminals have contracted with society by dint of their crime.

This isn't how things work in the big picture, even if the viewpoint accurately represents the action of interrelationships at a microscopic magnitude of perspective.
quote:
Your suggestion that the system reflects the actual will of the lowest common denominator fails on the simple fact that the lowest common denominator is so disengaged that it's will isn't represented at all.
Ah. Here's your problem: you think that when I talk about the lowest common denominator, I'm referring to the lowest class of people.

You misunderstand--when I say that democracy is limited by the lowest common denominator in determining social values, I'm not talking about the values of "common" folk vs the elite, I'm pointing out that democracy selects for the lowest common value that the entire body politic possesses. If there is a "higher" class and a "lower" class of justice, this doesn't reference the ideologies of different economic strata of society, it rather refers to a value judgment regarding the ideals that could be held by any individual at any level of society.

Like I said, 100% of voters could agree that retribution is a crude template for justice, but unless a democracy can obtain a majority consensus regarding a specific form that better represents justice than does the retributive model of the status quo, the model of justice cannot be improved.

[ March 31, 2015, 03:36 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
I know you feel that the Republicans are worse than the Democrats, but I personally am not amused by the notion of backing a party because they're 'not as bad.' I wouldn't want to nominate a cat burglar as mayor any more than a murderer.
Good luck in finding someone else to nominate. Because any person who is nominated will be characterized as a murderer by the opposing party--and "proven" to be at least a cat burgler. [Smile]
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
It drives the parties to extremism and unreasonable idiocy, as we've seen. As a vote of "no confidence," abstaining from the vote is pretty much the stupidest thing any given individual can do.
Unless the civil mind is ripe with revolution...

Maybe what you see as the extremism and unreasonable idiocy that occurs in democracy as the disenfranchised retreat, is just the reality of what democracy really is when the people who don't really believe in it stop trying to work with the rigmarole.

Maybe the absurdity of our age is just a product of the dying throes of an obsolete system of governance...

The beauty of America is not in her democracy, nor her fatuous and false declarations of equivalency--it is in the freedom promised by new opportunity which radiates from this land's light Liberty...

[Wink]

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seekingprometheus
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Heh.

I'm suddenly realizing that I've been referring the wrong construct...

I'll leave it for someone else to point out my error, to provide opportunity to apply just social correction appropriate to the tone I use, and for those who just want the patch to the bug, the construct I should have been using all this while is actually is actually GCD. Democracy can only aspire to the GCD of the ideals of the body politic.

[FootInMouth]

[ March 31, 2015, 05:42 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pyrtolin
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Now you've really got yourself turned around.
Lowest Common Denominator is correct.

You've gotten yourself mixed up with Greatest Common Factor.

I thought you were going to point out that you erred in painting our system as primarily democratic, whereas it's actually fundamentally a republic to avoid some of the pitfalls you've noted.

In either case my point about suppression stands- unless you're limiting your concept of "the body politic" to just be "Those who remain engaged", then when turnout is low or suppressed, the system only responds to the strongest will among those that turn out, not the global least common denominator or most common factors within society. You only even begin to have a potential of a system that's responsive to those when you have close to universal participation.

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seekingprometheus
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Your point about suppression stands just like I've been saying all the while. But this Pyrtonent point isn't pertinent to my point.

And yes, LCD was correct in certain contexts, but also no--the GCD/GCF is a more accurate construct to represent what I was saying in a lot of contexts where I referred to the LCD.
quote:
I thought you were going to point out that you erred in painting our system as primarily democratic, whereas it's actually fundamentally a republic to avoid some of the pitfalls you've noted.
Yes, yes, our nation is as much an elephant as it is an ass, but here I haven't erred: my allegations are indeed focused on how asinine we are in our nature as the Ass, but I haven't forgotten the Elephant in the room.
quote:
You only even begin to have a potential of a system that's responsive to those when you have close to universal participation.
And each piece of pi could be sliced out perfectly in a world of perfect circles.

But there are no perfect circles, no matter how the math seems to the sheep lining up on that grand merry-go-round (jumping each time at the pole with the brass ring) counting on eventually achieving democratic dreams.

[Wink]

[ March 31, 2015, 06:48 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Fenring
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Pyr, I would say that what you say about those who remain engaged would be true, but only up to the point where it isn't. This sounds like a tautology, but the active part of avoiding voting comes precisely at the time when someone decides to address the matter of those who are disenfranchised or disenchanted. It's true that systemically there is no incentive right now for anyone to address those people, but the market availability of those votes is always there for the picking until someone comes around to harvest them. At such a time those people will have effectively fueled a new wave of politics.

If you think of voting as force (which I think it fundamentally is), and a vote as a potential weapon, then all the votes that go unused are viable weapons that lie dormant. They are still perfectly serviceable and usable in warfare, should someone decide to pick them up. Sooner or later I think someone will realize there is an arsenal out there that can be used to win a war.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
but the market availability of those votes is always there for the picking until someone comes around to harvest them
Except, in a simple plurality, single vote sytem, that potential only exists when one of the two major players fails catastrophically, and then only actually exists in as much as the remnants of that player re-brand themselves and present themselves as the new alternative.

This is how history has played out. No thrid party has ever displaced one of the two standing parties in our system, new alternatives have only risen in the wake of total collapse of one of them.

It may be theoretically possible to magically engage all the disaffected votes in some way to pull off a coup, but it has literally never happened. Ross Perot came the closest to getting it somewhere, but he simply couldn't overcome the real psychological factors that make it essentially impossible to bring those votes into play from the outside.

They aren't votes that are on the market. The are votes that have exited the market, and will only return _after_ the market has changed enough to bring them back, never on the promise that if they come back, it will really be changed this time, honest, for sure.

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Pete at Home
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" that potential only exists when one of the two major players fails catastrophically"

I disagree. Theodore Roosevelt's revolt was his own arrogant failing, and Perot was a reaction against bipartisan support of NAFTA.

" No thrid party has ever displaced one of the two standing parties in our system"

GOP was such a 3rd party once, neh?

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
It may be theoretically possible to magically engage all the disaffected votes in some way to pull off a coup, but it has literally never happened.
If you conflate inactive voters with untallied votes, you might never note that non-voters impact vote tallies, even if only by means of how their personal interactions with voters impact votes.
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Greg Davidson
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Here's how I once heard a former lobbyist describe the system (I can't quite remember the numbers, so these are approximations):

~600,000 human beings in an average Congressional district

- 200,000 are under 18, not citizens, or otherwise ineligible to vote

= 400,000 eligible voters

-150,000 eligible voters who do not register to vote

= 250,000 registered voters

-125,000 registered voters who do not vote

= 125,000 voters

To win, you don't need 125,000 votes, you just need 62,501. And to get those 62,501 you don't need to reach all of them, you need to reach the influencers (because many people vote based on a combination of habit and the opinions of people they trust). And the most potent influence is money, and in particular it is those who can influence those who routinely give money to give it to your candidate. So in reality, many Congressional races come down to a candidate reaching out to maybe 10-20 bundlers raising campaign money, and reaching maybe 2,500 of their constituents who can influence at least 60,001 other registered voters.

The numbers are bit off - I remember in his example the typical Congressional candidate only needed 50,000 votes to be elected.

[ April 01, 2015, 12:00 AM: Message edited by: Greg Davidson ]

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seekingprometheus
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20% of the votes go to 3rd party candidates?
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
" No thrid party has ever displaced one of the two standing parties in our system"

GOP was such a 3rd party once, neh?

If you mean, a party that was created in the wake of the previous parties collapsing, then yes.

The GOP was the largest and most viable faction of the Whigs left when the Whigs collapsed in 1854, joined a portion of northern Democrats that broke away from their party in 1856.


From: http://leastevil.blogspot.com/2009/08/get-this-party-started-part-ii.html
quote:
When we left off, the Democratic and Whig parties were the components of the second party system. The two were nearly-equally popular in all parts of the country; north, south, and the newly-forming west. And so, both had to take care not to take sides in any regional conflicts, as that could cost them an election. Only one problem: the most important issue in the country, the focus of every debate and every headline, pitted north against south. Slavery. Neither party would take a stance on the issue. Democrats in the north were opposed, by needed the assistance of the slavery-dependent farm-owning Democrats in the south to win elections, and the story was similar for the Whigs. Everyone in America had a strong view on the issue, but with the axis of party alignment completely skew to it, it seemed a resolution on the issue would be impossible. The Whigs cracked first. Arguments over their party nomination in 1852 (and their subsequent loss in the election) shattered the party. Early in 1854, former Whigs began meeting as newly-minted Republican, Know-Nothing, and other party members.

In 1856, it was the Democrats chance for a nomination fight, settling on northerner-with-southern-sympathies, James Buchanan. That sympathy (and a southern running mate) was enough to defeat the clearly north-favoring Republican (as well as the border state Know-Nothing) candidate. As president, Buchanan's refusal to act or even speak out decisively about the rising calls for secession turned the whole nation against him, and in 1860, the Democratic party broke in half over the nomination of his replacement. The southern faction walked out, held their own convention, and nominated Buchanan's vice-president, John Breckinridge. The northern faction proceeded alone, and nominated Stephen Douglas, although many members left to join with the Republican party instead. A few border and western states, desperate to avoid war, combined the Know-Nothings with the few remaining (and still unaligned) former Whigs to create the short-lived Constitutional Union party, and nominated John Bell. The Republicans settled on a former Whig congressman from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln.

No upstart third party pushing out a major player, just two factions of the major players coming together in the wake of successive catastrophic collapses of existing parties.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Theodore Roosevelt's revolt was his own arrogant failing, and Perot was a reaction against bipartisan support of NAFTA.
And neither succeeded in displacing a major party. All they managed to do in both cases, at best, was ensure that the party more closely aligned to them took second place.
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Pete at Home
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No argument there but you did not adress the point for which i cited those stories.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
No argument there but you did not adress the point for which i cited those stories.

Then you need to actually assert the point that you want to make. It seemed that you were arguing that there was some evidence that a third party had successfully displaced one of the top two, instead of, at best, simply being the fragment of a preexisting party collapse that managed to gain the most traction.

[ April 01, 2015, 12:41 PM: Message edited by: Pyrtolin ]

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Pyrtolin
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(And, as a note to SP "GCD" is not something that exists, by the infinite nature of numbers. There is always a greater possible multiple of any two given numbers that would serve as a larger common denominator. LCD, GCF (There is technically a LCF, but it's always 1, so not very meaningful to refer to either.) LCD also stands as a metaphorical reference to "Those with the least sophisticated understanding of an issue"; by GFC, I imagine you mean "The idea that has the most wide-spread acceptance"?
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scifibum
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"Greatest common divisor" is an alternative term for "greatest common factor".
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seekingprometheus
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Thanks scifi.

And yeah, Pyrt, I get the confusion--I muddled it myself precisely because I missed my own subject/object transition. (Couldn't figure out why the ideas didn't rhyme right, at the time, but I had already posted in any case...) I only caught it when I realized you thought I was talking about the ideals of the lower class, rather than understanding my intended meaning of a lower class of ideals.

I think I could explain my perception of the disparity of appositional metaphorical utility between the LCD and the GCF if I were to utilize sufficient textual context, but I'm sure I've been prolix enough on the point, and I'd suppose we'd all agree I had just confused us all more in the end, were I to so intend.

It might be better if you just imagine that I mean that, if the loftiness of Justice could be represented by a number, the process of democracy limits the loftiness of the social construct of Justice to the greatest common divisor of the respective loftinesses of Justice of all the voting plebes.

Or even simpler yet, understand only that democracy is nothing but a mob, and the issue becomes obvious: a mob/democracy will never vote for a form of justice of a higher order than lynching, because lynching is in identity with the Justice of a mob/democracy.

We can keep arguing in this circle, but it's actually a tautology.

[ April 01, 2015, 05:14 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
a mob/democracy will never vote for a form of justice of a higher order than lynching, because lynching is in identity with the Justice of a mob/democracy.
That's absurd. Democracy is a collective. That collective can become a mob if it is abused and attacked and left feeling powerless, but the notion that people act that way by default is pure bunk.
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Pete at Home
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by default any group of animals, humans included, acts like a pack. Individuation is cultured.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
by default any group of animals, humans included, acts like a pack. Individuation is cultured.

A pack, yes. A mob, no. The difference between collective/pack behavior and mob behavior is exactly what I'm getting at.
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
That's absurd
Quite right.
quote:
Democracy is a collective. That collective can become a mob if it is abused and attacked and left feeling powerless, but the notion that people act that way by default is pure bunk.
...by dint of declaration, I'm to take it?

I get that you are passionate about both democracy and restorative justice, Pyrt, so I get how high the cognitive dissonance distortion has got to be in this thread, and I freely admit that I'm to blame for some of the confusion, having twisted the terminology so preposterously, but I have to ask: do you understand the mechanism of democratic ideal limitation described in my algorhythm yet?

Because while I am demonizing democracy with denunciation, I don't do it by dint of denunciation alone. There is method in my madness--if my conclusion is in error, its reasoning is written in my methodology.

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
Here's how I once heard a former lobbyist describe the system (I can't quite remember the numbers, so these are approximations):

~600,000 human beings in an average Congressional district

- 200,000 are under 18, not citizens, or otherwise ineligible to vote

= 400,000 eligible voters

-150,000 eligible voters who do not register to vote

= 250,000 registered voters

-125,000 registered voters who do not vote

= 125,000 voters

To win, you don't need 125,000 votes, you just need 62,501. And to get those 62,501 you don't need to reach all of them, you need to reach the influencers (because many people vote based on a combination of habit and the opinions of people they trust). And the most potent influence is money, and in particular it is those who can influence those who routinely give money to give it to your candidate. So in reality, many Congressional races come down to a candidate reaching out to maybe 10-20 bundlers raising campaign money, and reaching maybe 2,500 of their constituents who can influence at least 60,001 other registered voters.

The numbers are bit off - I remember in his example the typical Congressional candidate only needed 50,000 votes to be elected.

I'd add to that, that he only needs those votes if he's not in a "safe" district - those districts that will go either to the incumbent or one party or another almost literally no matter what happens.. How many of the Congressional candidates are actually having to work for those votes?

I looked it up. Only 90 of the 435 congressional seats are swing-able. Just 20%. So to change the balance of power and alter the political direction of America, control of Congress comes down to reaching out to maybe 900-1800 bundlers raising campaign money, and reaching maybe 225,000 of their constituents who can influence at least 5.4 million other registered voters. That's about 1.7% of total population. (assuming the numbers Greg provided above are decent approximations of his recollection - they sound close enough to me but it would be nice if someone could verify it).

So yeah, the game is pretty much rigged right now. The two party system owns the process. Would forcing a mass of uninformed, unengaged voters who never give it a thought but that are influenced only in the last few days of the election cycle by 5 second sound bites, 30 second, around the clock TV advertisements, and news media propaganda make it better?

In the incredibly unlikely event such a thing would ever happen in the US, and those in power obviously have no interest in allowing it, it would probably serve to only lend a stronger air of legitimacy to the results. Like when dictators get 100% of the vote.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
by default any group of animals, humans included, acts like a pack. Individuation is cultured.

A pack, yes. A mob, no. The difference between collective/pack behavior and mob behavior is exactly what I'm getting at.
then I urge you to get at it with more specificity

[ April 02, 2015, 11:14 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pyrtolin
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A mob acts to find an outlet for shared pain and anger, and dissipates once that emotional state is spent.

A pack operates for mutual support, survival, and to the degree that resources allow it, enrichment of its members. It may be somewhat defensive, even xenophobic of outside interlopers, but it generally operates on a mutually constructive baseline with regards to its own members.

In context of the above conversation- mobs will tend to drag those who try to resist destructive behaviors down with them, while packs will tend to seek to elevate members that resort to destructive behavior toward more communally beneficial behavior.

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seekingprometheus
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Ah.

So you say it ends when the bad feelings are fully spent?

Could you predict a timeframe, then: how long do you suppose it'll be before this dysphoria of democratic politics has settled down?

Because it seems from the outside like each year you goons get angrier at each other--you spend increasing billions of dollars each election cycle venting your frustration, and wreaking your rage in the cogs of the polling machine.

When shall this democratic dysphoria the body politic so obviously feels be finally and completely spent?

[ April 02, 2015, 04:48 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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I understand how much it burns to see it said that our society is based largely on little more than vanity and lies. But the real world cares little for how carefully we keep our cares, the real world is busy with its hard truths. Forget foolish fantasies: our confectionary cannot cook the perfectly divisible pie--such a recipe is simply not in the making in this reality.

And in spite of the bravest heights of mankind’s great fantasy, we are not standing in enlightenment upon the shoulders of giants! no--this carnival careens across the dancing backs of monkeys, folks.

[ April 02, 2015, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Wayward Son
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Now here's an interesting breakdown of why people didn't vote in the last Presidential election.

quote:
In the same Census Bureau survey we mentioned earlier, researchers asked for the reason why people didn’t vote. It’s broken down by age and income, so we can check all three of Sanders’ claims against the data for 2010.

We divided the stated reasons for not voting into two categories -- reasons of circumstance and reasons of choice. Under reasons of circumstance, we included "illness or disability," "out of town," "too busy/conflicting schedule," "transportation problems," "registration problems," "bad weather conditions," and "inconvenient polling places."

Under reasons of choice, we included "forgot to vote," "not interested," and "did not like candidates or campaign issues." (We ignored "other" and "didn’t know.")

Our division is not infallible -- others can combine the reasons into their own categories -- but we think our calculation offers a useful starting point for comparison.

All three demographic groups Sanders mentioned turn out to have pretty similar breakdowns. For Americans overall, 55 percent didn’t vote for reasons of circumstance. For young Americans, it was 56 percent, and for low-income Americans, it was 52 percent.

By contrast, the percentages of people not voting by choice were lower across the board. For Americans overall, it was 33 percent. For young Americans, it was 30 percent and for lower-income Americans it was 34 percent.

This means that Sanders went too far when he said that large majorities chose not to vote.

"It would be true to say that roughly an estimated 80 percent of youth did not vote in the 2014 midterm," said Abby Kiesa, youth coordinator and researcher at the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. "However, the existing research about youth voting does not suggest that all of those youth actively chose not to vote. In fact, young people in particular face barriers such as navigating a new system, that may prevent them from registering and voting, even if they do want to vote."

So about 55 percent of those who didn't vote did not vote because of problems voting, not because of disinterest or because they did not like the candidates. In fact, only about a third of those who did not vote used those reasons, according to this.
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Pete at Home
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if what Wayward just said is true, then mandatory voting would end up being just one more excuse for inner cities to fund themselves by gouging the poor with regressive fines. the poor inner districts have the worst voting equipment,not to mention the largest lines.but rather than trying to solve those problems with equitable voting systems, lefty leap right past the obvious problems and mandate systems of coercion
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Fenring
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Interestingly, under the category "reasons of circumstance" they have included "too busy/conflicting schedule", "bad weather conditions", and "inconvenient polling places", which are all different ways of saying "we didn't have enough motivation to make the trip", which are therefore really all reasons of choice and not of inability. Certainly there is some overlap in "inconvenient polling places" between it being circumstantial and choice, but obviously someone who saw voting as being a top priority in democracy would find a way to get there unless it was ridiculously prohibitive. The fact that a rainy day could stop someone voting says more about their basic interest than about the difficulties in getting interested people out there. That a person thinks "it's not worth the schlep" seems to me more indicative of disinterest than of logistical obstructions, since no obstruction short of a smouldering crater would dissuade someone who was absolutely intent on voting.

That being said it looks like these numbers basically tell us nothing at all. Not being able to vote as a result of needing to stay at work to pay the rent is one thing. Not voting due to weather or having a 'conflicting schedule' says much more about apathy and disinterest than anything else.

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Pete at Home
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LLack of motivation might translate into lack of confidence inbeing able to make an intelligent choice based on available info.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
LLack of motivation might translate into lack of confidence inbeing able to make an intelligent choice based on available info.

It's true that one might find it hard to make an intelligent choice if there are no intelligent choices. The idea of having to do specific research on a candidate to know the basics suggests that either that candidate has failed to promote himself (unlikely for Dems or Reps), or that his positions are so uninteresting that a study of them becomes an investigation into minutiae where the big picture is plain as day.

Either way I'd say that a voter (for President, in any case) that 'doesn't know enough' to make a vote, letting alone for a moment the tiny amount of people who'd actually confess to being in this situation, is probably expressing a lack of concern for the distinction between the candidates rather than suggesting that he/she is incapable of watching the news...ever, or at least the debates.

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